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The Remembrance And Our Service In The Holies

Sometimes we are asked to discuss the question, What is the relationship between the Remembrance and the Holy Priesthood service of God's people in the holies? The following article is offered humbly as a contribution to this profound and important subject.

In his first epistle Peter addresses persons to whom had been given the stimulating hope of an eternal inheritance in glory which was reserved in heaven for them. But Peter indicates to these elect, saved, redeemed, regenerated, obedient persons a great purpose which was being fulfilled in and through them before they reached the glory of heaven. Of Christ he writes, "Unto whom coming, a living Stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, ye also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:4, 5). The house of which Peter writes is a spiritual house. Men and women are the living stones who, brought together according to a divine pattern, form this house. Let us not miss this very important aspect of God's purpose in saving sinners. God wants a house, a dwelling-place on earth. But what we wish here to emphasize is that the primary objective in this is that there should be a people set apart to offer to God the spiritual sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise. God must come first. Let us observe that those who constitute the holy priesthood are those who form the house of God. The sacrifices thus offered are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We therefore submit that it is in God's present purpose for His children that they should be gathered and separated according to His word so that there may be the holy priesthood of His house to offer as a worshipping people spiritual sacrifices which will be acceptable to Him. This is the great aspect of divine revelation established by Peter.

But where is the sphere of the activities of this holy priesthood? For help on this point we go to the epistle to the Hebrews. Among the wonderful privileges enjoyed by God's people of this age is that of entrance by the holy priesthood into the heavenly sanctuary;, the holy place (or the holies) to worship God (Heb. 10:19-25). It is there that the holy priesthood offers up spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ who is great Priest over the house of God. This boldness of entrance is enjoyed because of the sacrificial work of Christ. We enter by the blood of Jesus. Approach to God is by the living Way who is Christ Himself; through the Veil, the Man in the glory. It should be observed that this amazing collective spiritual movement by faith into the holies is presented in the Hebrews epistle in the context of giving to God. "We have such a High Priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is necessary that this High Priest also have somewhat to offer" (8:1-3).

The "somewhat" that He offers consists of the spiritual sacrifices which the holy priesthood of the house of God offers to Him in agreement with the revelation of divine purpose in I Pet. 2. To enter the heavenly holies the priesthood must be in a relationship with God answering to His infinite holiness, and for the sacrifices to be acceptable they must pass through the great Priest who officiates in the sanctuary.

Accepting that, in 1 Pet. 2 we see that it is God's purpose to have a house for a priesthood to worship Him, offering the spiritual sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise, and accepting too that, as we see in the epistle to the Hebrews, the place of worship is the holy place in heaven, we may now ask,

When do God's people engage in this service? We suggest that a clue in this enquiry is found in Heb. 10. After demonstrating the remarkable provision that has been made for entrance into the holies the writer gives the exhortation, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is ..." (10: 25). Entrance into the holy place is a collective spiritual movement, which involves the assembling together of the disciples.

Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians is in the main a corrective letter. Several irregularities had developed in the church in Corinth and the apostle was compelled to give teaching and commandment that would restore order. One area of activity into which grave disorder had intruded was that related to the Remembrance. Many important points were dealt with by Paul, but we desire here to draw attention to an expression which he uses in his rebuke. "Ye come together not for the better but for the worse ... when ye come together in the church, I hear that divisions exist among you ... When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord's supper" (11: 17, 18, 20; see also verses 33 and 34). In chapter 10 when dealing with the evil of idol worship and sacrificing to demons Paul says, "I would not that ye should have communion with demons (R.V.M.). Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons" (10: 20, 21). And, as we have seen, in chapter 11: 20 he refers to "the Lord's supper". It should be noted that in this section of the epistle the matter of eating and drinking is seen in the context of eating and drinking in a communion involved in worship. It is not the ordinary eating and drinking for the nourishment of the body. The heathen ate in communion with the table of demons. The Christian eats in communion with the table of the Lord. With the table of the Lord is associated the Lord's supper, which is clearly shown to be another term for the breaking of the bread or the Remembrance as instituted by the Lord in the night in which He was being betrayed.

In order to keep the Remembrance it was necessary for the saints in the church of God in Corinth to be gathered together. They came together in church (The Revised Version margin gives "in congregation", drawing attention to the fact that there is no "the" before "church"). This does not involve that all the church necessarily gathered in the one room. But there was the physical assemblage of the saints. There were on the table the material emblems, the bread and the wine. After thanks was given for the bread it was broken and eaten. After thanks was given for the cup the wine was poured out and drunk. The material emblems entered the physical bodies of the assembled saints. At no stage did any change take place in the essence of the bread or the wine. "Only bread, and only wine, yet to faith the solemn sign of the heavenly and divine." Or to put it in other words which we today use in our service, "His body offered up. His blood shed once for all, this broken loaf and poured-out cup so preciously recall." Attention could be drawn to many other things which emphasize the physical and material aspects of the Remembrance.

But we believe there is also a spiritual aspect. We have already indicated the association of the Remembrance with the Lord's supper and the connection of the Lord's supper with the table of the Lord. We have seen that the table of the Lord is presented against the background of worship. In the revelation of His will to the people of Israel, God gave a calendar of feasts. The celebration of these feasts brought the people together at the appointed times in the appointed place to render collective national worship to the Lord. We draw attention to words which show the identification of the worship of God with the divinely commanded feasts. Concerning a time which is yet future we read, "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles" (Zech. 14: 16). It is our belief that in the simple ordinance of the Remembrance we have for God's people in the present dispensation that which, though infinitely more precious, answers to the festal ordinances which God gave to the Israel people. For in the breaking of the bread we have the gathering of God's people in collective constitution to keep the divine command and therein to worship God. Whatever physical features are necessarily involved in our keeping the command of the Lord, we believe that when we give thanks for the emblems we do so in our capacity as a holy priesthood, worshipping God in spirit and truth in the heavenly holy place into which we enter collectively in spirit by faith.

It is our submission that for the fulfilment of the primary purpose of there being a house of God, as enunciated by Peter, we have the provision expressed in the epistle to the Hebrews and the occasion of this fulfilment is in the Remembrance or the breaking of the bread.